What you need to know about traveling to Hawaii during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

The Coronavirus is certainly causing concern around the world. It seems like there’s news about it every minute of the day. We’ve been closely following the situation and updating our article on Coronavirus in Hawaii on a daily basis.  We’ll continue to update that page, but we also want to make you aware of the current situation as well as options and additional advice as it relates to traveling to Hawaii.

Are there any cases of Coronavirus COVID-19 in Hawaii?

Through March 10, 2020, there are two confirmed cases of the Coronavirus. These cases have only been confirmed since March 6, 2020. Both patients are Oahu residents. The first patient traveled on the infamous Grand Princess cruise ship that has been linked to dozens of cases. He is reported to be in quarantine at home and “doing well.”  The second patient traveled to Washington State, where there have been hundreds of confirmed cases. The second patient is reported to be held in isolation at Oahu’s Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center.

On March 11, 2020, there was news of a Canadian doctor testing positive for the Coronavirus after returning from a vacation in Hawaii.

What should I do if I have an upcoming trip to Hawaii?

Our top recommendation is to know your options. If you are concerned about your upcoming trip, consider whether you can cancel without penalties.

  • Due to the Coronavirus, many airlines are allowing travel waivers which allow you to change or cancel your flight without a fee. Check directly with the airline for your booking to understand their policies.
  • Check to see if you can cancel you hotel reservation.
  • If you are on a cruise, check to see if the cruise company is offering an option to cancel. Many cruise companies are offering an option to cancel.
  • Check to see if you can cancel your rental car or transport reservation. Generally, rental cars are more forgiving with cancellations.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers advice on whether individuals should cancel or postpone travel. It’s worth noting this advice from the CDC:

“Since older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for severe disease, people in these groups should discuss travel with a healthcare provider and consider postponing nonessential travel.”

What should I know about the Coronavirus and cruises that travel to Hawaii?

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs issued an advisory statement on March 8, 2020 stating, “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.  CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.” See the full statement here.

In light of the Department of State advisory statement, you should learn what your options are for cancellation. Check with your travel agent and/or with the cruise company directly. Additionally, check frequently for any modifications or cancellations to your cruise itinerary.

Princess Cruises just announced a voluntary and temporary pause of its global ship operations for 60 days, which will impact voyages departing March 12 through May 10, 2020. Princess is the first to halt services, but they may not be the last in this evolving situation.

If I still want to proceed with my trip to Hawaii, what might I expect?


Airlines have implemented enhanced and more frequent cleaning. I have no scientific basis for saying this, but with the enhanced cleaning, airplanes are probably cleaner than they’ve been in years.

We’ve seen numerous reports of very low capacity flights. So, you may encounter a little more elbow room on your flights than usual.

Airport operations across the country have enhanced their cleaning, too.

Hotels, Restaurants & Attractions 

With sparsely-filled flights, you can also expect less than capacity hotels, restaurants and attractions.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Coronavirus alerts page states:

“Hawaii’s visitor industry continues to maintain the highest standards for sanitation and has taken additional steps to enhance its efforts at hotels, attractions, restaurants and other public spaces across the Hawaiian Islands to prevent the spread of infectious diseases amongst residents and visitors. The industry is also taking proactive steps to educate its workforce to continue practicing good hygiene at home and on the job, while reminding travelers to do the same while visiting through a series of informational videos being played at baggage claim areas in all state airports.”


It this current Coronavirus-influenced market, both airlines and hotels are offering deals. For example, we’ve seen fares from the west coast start at just $198 roundtrip. We’ve also seen lower hotel rates.

Tips & Tricks for Staying Healthy While Traveling

Should you decide to take your Hawaii vacation amid this Coronavirus scare, here are some tips for avoiding catching a cold or virus while traveling.

– Bring your own antibacterial wipes – for example Lysol and Clorox wipes — to clean surfaces you touch at your airplane seat. In addition to the obvious, tray tables and arm rests, also wipe the area you would use to open the seat pocket in front of you. (If possible, avoid using the seat pocket at all because studies have shown that they are very germ-laden.) Wipe the air vent, too.

– Use antibacterial wipes on surfaces you’ll touch in a hotel room – such as light switches, faucets, lamp switches, remote controls, telephone, etc.

– Bring hand sanitizer and/or antibacterial wipes that are safe for cleaning your hands. (The Lysol and Clorox-type wipes are too harsh for regular hand cleaning.)

– Avoid touching your face.

– Avoid being around people who appear to be sick.

– Personally, I would avoid buffets.

– Stay hydrated as it helps your immune system.

– Consider using a product that claims to boost your immune system. How much it helps, we don’t know, but if your doctor approves, it may help. Experts recommend getting your vitamins and minerals from your food, but when you travel you are not always in control of well-balanced, immune-boosting meals. Personally we’ve had good experience using Airborne chewables when we travel.

– Bring a thermometer with you. The Coronavirus is known to cause a fever.

– Pack a baggie of medicine, just in case you feel unwell.

– Bring a longer supply of prescription medications just in case your trip gets unexpectedly extended.

– When in Hawaii, call 2-1-1 for general questions about COVID-19.

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